Gower Bibliography

Saving History: Gower's Apocalyptic and the New Arion

Kendall, Elliott. "Saving History: Gower's Apocalyptic and the New Arion." In John Gower, Trilingual Poet: Language, Translation, and Tradition. Ed. Dutton, Elisabeth and Hines, John and Yeager, R.F. Cambridge: Brewer, 2010, pp. 46-58.


Kendall notes that the hopes for a new Arion that Gower expresses at the end of the Prologue to CA constitute a deferral of the apocalypse implied by the image of Nebuchadnezzar's statue and its imminent destruction, a deferral that implies significant human agency in determining the course, if not the final outcome, of history. Roots for Gower's optimism can be found in earlier prophetic writings, but not for its tentativeness, and "because the rehabilitation of history is not inevitable, it is all to play for in the poem's project of personal reform for the sake of the divided world" (54). The Prologue's political hopes are reflected on a personal level in the penitential frame of the main part of the poem, particularly in the conclusion, where an aged poet (echoing the "world grown old") accomplishes a "personal re-ordering" through penance, which "on a population-wide scale, would mark a new ‘age of Arion'" (55). Moral reform thus determines history. The ideal society depicted in the Prologue is inherently conservative but places more emphasis on "love" than on law. "And rather than a princely political mediator, Arion's successor, with his enigmatic, musical modus operandi, might bear a passing resemblance to John Gower" (58). [PN. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 30.1]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Confessio Amantis

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